Following Up on the Office of Governor General: Documents Not Gazetted


Even without catchy buzzphrases like “deliverology” and “Open Government,” the Government of Canada published more official documents in the mid-20th century than it does today simply out of a sense of common decency and an understanding that liberal-democratic countries must preserve a proper historical record of what their governments have done. I have checked the Canada Gazette regularly for the last few weeks in the hope that they would contain copies of the executive instruments which record the dismissal of Payette the Petulant from the Office of Governor General and the appointment of the Chief Justice as Administrator; so far, the Gazette contains nothing of the kind.

On 16 January 1952, King George VI issued letters patent terminating Lord Alexander’s commission as Governor General. Alexander needed to resign and vacate the office of Governor General, with the agreement of Prime Minister St. Laurent, so that he could become the Minister of Defence of the United Kingdom under Prime Minister Churchill.[1] The Canada Gazette recorded a proclamation from the Administrator, Chief Justice Thibaudeau Rinfret, on the same day.[2] These simultaneous executive instruments ensured the continuity of government and demonstrated a culture of accountability.

This becomes especially crucial in light of the fact that the Administrator of the Government of Canada does not assume office automatically but instead must be sworn in by the Clerk of the Privy Council.[3] The Administrator can then appoint Deputy Administrators in the same way that the Governor General appoints Deputy Governors General.[4]

We also used to gazette the proclamations activating the commission of the Administrator of the Government of Canada and appointing Deputy Administrators of the Government of Canada. For example, on 2 July 1974, Chief Justice Bora Laskin was sworn in as the Administrator due to the incapacity of Governor General Jules Leger, and he appointed some Deputy Administrators the same day.[5]

At some time between 23 January and 17 February, Chief Justice Wagner appointed Ian McCowan and Marie-Geneviève Mounier as his Deputy Administrators, but I cannot narrow down the exact date because the Privy Council Office has decided not to gazette these appointments. I only learned about their appointments at all because the Journals of the Senate recorded them on 17 February.[6] The Senate would need to keep track of who can act as Deputy Administrator of the Government of Canada because someone fulfilling that role could conceivably have to give Royal Assent in Parliament Assembled, as the Royal Assent Act requires twice per year, and the Senate would need to know that they could validly signify Royal Assent. The Prime Minister’s Office announced on 29 January that Ian McCowan would become the new Secretary to the Governor General and that Marie-Geneviève Mounier would continue in her role as Associate Secretary to the Governor General.[7] McCowan took up his new post on 1 February. Rideau Hall’s website includes brief biographies for both McCowan and Mounier, and neither mentions that they have been appointed as Deputy Administrators.[8]

Between 27 January and 27 February 2021, the Administrator of the Government of Canada in Council  issued 113 Orders-in-Council, but the Privy Council Office has decided not to gazette any of the documents relating to his swearing in thus far. For the sake of the historical record if nothing else, I hope that PCO will cause them to be gazetted soon.

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Notes

[1]     Canada. Privy Council Office, Manual of Official Procedure of the Government of Canada, Henry F. Davis and André Millar (Ottawa: Government of Canada, 1968), 103, 105; Canada. Privy Council Office, Manual of Official Procedure of the Government of Canada: Appendices, Henry F. Davis and André Millar (Ottawa: Government of Canada, 1968), 205-206.

[2]     Canada. Privy Council Office, Manual of Official Procedure of the Government of Canada: Appendices, Henry F. Davis and André Millar (Ottawa: Government of Canada, 1968), 205-206; Canada Gazette, Extra, No. 1, (Ottawa: King’s Printer, 28 January 1952), 279-280.

[3]     Canada. Privy Council Office, Manual of Official Procedure of the Government of Canada, Henry F. Davis and André Millar (Ottawa: Government of Canada, 1968), 213.

[4]     Canada. Privy Council Office, Manual of Official Procedure of the Government of Canada, Henry F. Davis and André Millar (Ottawa: Government of Canada, 1968), 215.

[5]     Canada Gazette, Extra, No. 17 (Ottawa: Queen’s Printer, 2 July 1974), 2739, 2666.

[6]     Canada, Senate, Journals of the Senate, 43rd Parliament, 2nd Session, 70 Elizabeth II (17 February 2021), 357-360.

[7]     Canada, Prime Minister’s Office, “The Prime Minister announces a change in the senior ranks of the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General,” 29 January 2021.

[8]     Canada, Office of the Governor General, “About the Office: Our Structure – Secretary to the Governor General,” accessed 11 March 2021; Canada, Office of the Governor General, “About the Office: Our Structure – Associate Secretary,” accessed 11 March 2021.

About J.W.J. Bowden

My area of academic expertise lies in Canadian political institutions, especially the Crown, political executive, and conventions of Responsible Government; since 2011, I have made a valuable contribution to the scholarship by having been published and cited extensively in my field. I’m also a contributing editor to the Dorchester Review and a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Parliamentary and Political Law.
This entry was posted in Crown (Powers and Office), Governor General. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Following Up on the Office of Governor General: Documents Not Gazetted

  1. Robert Ede says:

    Are you ignoring Order in Council PC#1940-1121 that I keep bringing to your attention?

    Like

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